Playlist: Trembling Bells pick ‘tour bus jammers and tequila slammers’ playlists

On the verge of the release of seventh album Dungeness on March 30th, we asked Alex Neilson and Lavinia Blackwall from the band to come up with a playlist of tunes they might be rocking on the tour bus. Alex dragged in Trembling Bells associate and possible (we might be bestowing this title upon him) spiritual adviser (or maybe just friend) Lewis Porteous into the conversation. But we all need someone to help make the perfect playlist, right? Lavinia gave us a list of songs she’d been cooking and drinking to, to add to it. Hence – tour bus jammers and tequila slammers.  

Here’s Alex Neilson & Lewis Porteous’ Tour Bus Jammers:

1. Roxy Music: Street Life
Bryan Ferry is one of rock’s great stylists. I love his tics and pouts. I don’t understand his decision making within songs, which makes me obsess over them. Like, by any measurable standard it should be excruciating, but he totally owns it according to the context he’s created. He looks like he shimmied right out of the womb in full evening wear. I love the way he delivers the line “Education is an important key, yes” as if his voice is warping like a slide guitar. And then the inexplicable clicked outro. What the fuck’s he thinking?! (A.N)

2. Dion McGregor: Vulvina
Whether this is legit or a hoax, it’s an extraordinary document. Dion McGregor was a failed actor living in NYC who used to rant in his sleep about all manner of neurotic fantasia. All of his somnambu-logues end in him screaming himself awake, as the psycho-sexual scenarios he’s improvising become evermore frenzied. Astonishingly this was originally released on Decca and then John Zorn’s label, Zadik reissued it in the 90’s which is how I came to hear it.  Disturbing and hilarious- often at the same time. (A.N)

3. Nat “King” Cole: Stardust
Described by none other than Chuck Berry as “one of the three truly original songs” (I think the other two were by him), this is sublime. I once heard Nat Cole’s voice described as “talcum powder and razor blades” and, although I don’t know what that means, it makes a lot of sense. There’s a deliciousness to Gordon Jenkins’ arrangement which feels gigantic and hallucinatory- like a fever dream. The meaning of the song always feels on the edge of comprehensibility, but it seems to operate most successfully in the realm of the senses. (A.N)

4. Current 93: Moonlight, You Will Say
Like most things that I love, when I first heard this song I hated it. I just didn’t know what to make of it. I would play it to my friends who would laugh all the way through it. But then I found myself singing it over and over and over and over. Or trying to. I was really taken by the line “I remember walking in the fields around York…. misery…. misery” because I was always on the look out for cultural sign posts that would elevate the place I came from (Yorkshire) into a kind of psychic realm. Tibet delivers this with a high, declamatory fervour, as if the lights behind his eyes are shifting into some recognisable pattern which unites the ancient past with the faraway future. By the time he gets to the songs title he’s in a rapture “Moonlight, you will say!” Again, I’m buggered if I understand it, but it makes a lot of sense. (A.N)

5. The Stranglers: “Nice & Sleazy”
I love Jean-Jacques Burnel’s lurid, thuggish bass playing. It snakes through this song like a black mamba. I can’t really tell why this song’s about- some kind of cryptic travelogue from an imaginary land? None of the parts seem to relate to each other, but it makes for an electrifying whole. I’m pretty new to the Stranglers. They’re like a cross between the Kinks and the Doors but in a punk context. Vocals like kidney punches. Bass lines like black mambas. They seemed to write a lot of hits in spite of themselves. (A.N)

6. Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tick – Last Night in Soho
I’ve been told there were multiple Dave Dees, Dozys, Beakys, Micks and Ticks, and that new recruits to the group had to surrender themselves to a demented Svengali figure, taking on whichever poorly defined identity lay vacant at the time. This claim could be verified in an instant, though I prefer not to risk discovering a much more prosaic truth: that their bubblegum incantations and off kilter pop hooks were the work of auteur geniuses. This is maybe their most mature hit, a moving though ultimately skewed melodrama. (L.P)

7. Marlene Dietrich – Falling in Love Again
Dietrich performed this early in her career, for her star-making turn in The Blue Angel. The movie was shot in both German and English with unilingual cast members learning their lines phonetically. For whatever reason, I think the English language rendition of this song scans better. There’s also vulnerability to be discerned in the star taking on material she’s not yet totally comfortable with. Even when she revisits the track as an American citizen and fully formed international star, this sense of vulnerability is somehow retained. (L.P)

8. MOMUSMCCLYMONT – The Shepherd
Momus is Scotland’s great unsung export, though the UK has all but disowned him. His recent albums can only be bought on import despite being preposterously good. Seek them out and you’ll find some incredibly astute commentary on contemporary Britain presented alongside the examinations of intellect and perversion that have become his trademark. Here the Japan dwelling oddball teams up with fellow ex-pat David McClymont – formerly of Glaswegian heavyweights Orange Juice, now based in Australia – to render the lessons of Operation Yewtree as a cautionary nursery rhyme. (L.P)

9. Smokey – Piss Slave
I don’t think this was released until a few years ago, despite having been recorded when disco was a current phenomenon. It was obviously conceived as a vulgar gay club hit in a similar vein to the music Divine put out, but goes much further than anything John Waters ever did. Smokey – whose early singles don the Stooges in bondage gear – sounds unnervingly committed throughout this ode to water sports. I cherish this track for its ability to clear a dance floor, despite being eminently danceable. (L.P)

10. Country Teasers – Man vs. Cock
Ben Waller is known for using repugnant language and imagery to challenge his audience, but this track strikes me as decidedly sincere and devoid of provocation. It’s assertion that ‘the penis mocks the soul for not fucking around more’ and alternating vocal effects make for a comic, self-loathing psychodrama. (L.P)

Lavinia Blackwall’s Tequilla Slammers:

‘The following is a list of songs I was listening to whilst drinking gin and tonics and making bolognese sauce last Saturday. I like them all for different reasons, if there’s any logic in it, make of it what you will:
1. I’m Mandy fly me – 10cc

2. I’ve been waiting for a girl like you – Foreigner

3. Me and my arrow – Harry Nilsson

4. Tete a tete – Euros childs

5. Bertha theme tune extended – BBC

6. Fresher than the sweetness in water – Honeybus

7. Whatevershebringswesing – Kevin Ayers

8. Starless – King Crimson

Pre-order Dungeness here.
Catch the band on tour this April
03.04 Sneaky Pete’s, Edinburgh
04.04 Sheffield Hallam Student Union, Sheffield
06.04 The Continental, Preston
07.04 Hyde Park Book Club, Leeds
08.04 The Golden Lion, Todmordon
09.04 The Musician, Leicester
10.04 The Tin Music & Arts, Coventry
11.04 Venue tbc, London
12.04 The Brunswick, Brighton
13.04 The Railway, Winchester
14.04 Ace Arts Space, Newbury
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